The New York Times says it will pay off its quarter-billion dollar loan from Mexican media magnate Carlos Slim Helú early, making its final payment on August 15. The move will free The Times of "one of its larger financial obligations," Jeremy W. Peters wrote in a relieved-sounding Media Decoder column. It's making the payment "three and a half years before the loan is due and five months sooner than the company initially planned to settle the debt." Helú, the second largest shareholder in The Times behind the Sulzburger family, already owned a 6.9 percent share in the company in 2009, when the deal was struck. He issued the six year notes to help The Times refinance its nearly $1.1 billion in debt. The Times ended the first quarter with $352 million on hand, so it decided to go ahead and pay off what it owed Helú, which came to $279 million with a 14 percent interest rate. "While the company will incur a $46 million loss on the prepayment in the third quarter, savings on interest over the next three and a half years will exceed $39 million each year," Peters wrote.